BY MICHAEL KELLY
ENDWELL — A dream season ended Saturday for the Shenendehowa field hockey team in the Class A state semifinals courtesy of a stout all-around effort from Ward Melville.
“They’re a very, very good team, and obviously everyone can see that,” Shenendehowa senior Kelly Barkevich said after her team’s 1-0 loss at Maine-Endwell High School. “We haven’t seen a lot of teams that were that fast.”
“When they transferred, they sent the ball through, so that really eliminated our first line of defense,” Shenendehowa senior Emily Fraser said. “I was really impressed by the way they moved the ball really fast and used both sides of the field.”
Shenendehowa — which finished the season 18-2 after winning both a Section II and regional title — struggled throughout Saturday’s contest to generate scoring opportunities. For the game, the Plainsmen only attempted four shots and registered four penalty-corner attempts.
“It just wasn’t our day,” said Shenendehowa head coach Jeanne Frevola, whose squad had won 16 consecutive games before falling to Section XI’s Ward Melville.
While the game’s tempo was a quick one and featured consistent end-to-end action, Ward Melville was able to turn more of its opportunities into real chances. After a scoreless first half, Ward Melville finally broke through on a goal from sophomore Kerri Thornton with 25:27 to play in regulation off an assist from junior Kiera Kate Alventosa. The score came after one of Ward Melville’s 10 penalty corners, and the shot that went past Shenendehowa senior goalie Meredith Koziol emerged from heavy traffic.
For the game, Koziol made six saves, helping to keep the Plainsmen in striking distance.
“She had so many clutch saves and [our deficit] could have been a lot more if not for Meredith,” said Fraser, who was named Shenendehowa’s all-tournament performer.
Ward Melville advanced to take on Section I’s Mamaroneck in today’s 12:30 p.m. championship game; Mamaroneck advanced to the final with a 6-0 victory against Section VI’s Williamsville North.
After winning the state championship in 2013 and coming up short in last year’s Section II final, Fraser said the Plainsmen had made it a talking point throughout the 2015 season that the team’s goal was to get to this year’s state title game. While Saturday’s loss left the squad a game short, Fraser said her team knew to be proud, not disappointed, with its season.
“This group should be so happy with how far we’ve come,” said Fraser, who will play next season for the University at Albany.
“It’s been an amazing journey. This group of girls, they’re all so talented and played with their hearts every day,” Barkevich said. “It’s been an honor being on this team for the past couple years and I know they’ll do great things in the future.”
Next year’s Shenendehowa roster will need to replace six seniors from this year’s group. While that crop includes a number of major contributors, Frevola said the goal for next year’s group will be the same as this year’s squad.
“My plan,” she said, “is to be back here next year.”